Decorated Initial, In St. Gregory The Great's 'Forty Sermons On The Gospels' f.4r
Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum
St. Gregory (c.540-604), known as 'The Great', was pope from 590-604 and responsible for sending St. Augustine to convert England to Christianity in 597. His writings were of fundamental importance to the medieval Church; this manuscript contains a copy of his homilies (sermons) on the Gospels. It was originally owned by Caerleon (afterwards Llantarnam) Abbey, in Monmouthshire, but was given in 1248 to another Cistercian house, Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire, at the request of Richard, Earl of Cornwall (brother of Henry III) who had founded Hailes Abbey two years earlier, in 1246.
The first page of the text is, unfortunately, damaged and has been repaired. It is still possible, however, to make out the details of the large initial 'R': the upper part is filled with a large acanthus leaf, and the lower diagonal bar is formed of a dragon-like creature.